Reviews - May 2018

What They Say

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
—Hunter S. Thompson


Reviewers

Review Coordinator
Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., MHt:

Cynthia Lee Clark

Former Miss Chicago (Miss USA), Cynthia Lea Clark continued school, graduating from Northwestern University (multiple degreed), attended nursing school, and became a Firefighter Paramedic. After working as an actress in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked on many television shows, such as DAYS OF OUR LIVES and STAT, while continuing her education with a Masters in Psychology and then a Doctorate of Psychology. While working on STAT, she was stalked which led her to work in Forensic Psychopathology. She has over 70 interviews with serial killers, mass murderers, etc. Today she mixes Forensics with writing and acting.  She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death Chapter of RWA, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and the American College of Forensic Examiners International.

 

Aaron Paul Lazar:

Aaron Paul Lazar

Aaron Paul Lazar writes to soothe his soul. A bestselling Kindle author of 22 books, including three addictive mystery series, writing books, and a new love story, Aaron enjoys the Genesee Valley countryside in upstate New York, where his characters embrace life, play with their dogs and grandkids, grow sumptuous gardens, and chase bad guys. Visit his website at http://www.lazarbooks.com and watch for his upcoming release, UNDER THE ICE. Aaron has won over 18 book awards for his novels and finds writing to be his form of "cheap therapy." Feel free to connect with him on Facebook or his website; he loves to connect with readers.

 

Virginia Lo Monaco:

Virginia Lo Monaco

Virginia Lo Monaco lived in Sicily, Italy for 16 years and recently returned to California. She was trained as an operatic soprano, and has worked for numerous Opera Companies in America and was director of the Schola Cantorum for the Church of Sant'Anna in the town where she lived with her two dogs (including Tim, the overgrown Fox Terrier that co-stars in the Terry Strong, P.I., series) and three canaries. In order to pay for the years of vocal study, she worked for five years as a Fingerprint Technician for a sheriff's department and five years as a Group Counselor for juvenile offenders.

She started writing fiction in November, 1998. She started her first Terry Strong, P.I., novel, "Lethal Relations," in January, 2013.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, the Private Eye Writers of America, the Short Mystery Fiction Society and Sisters In Crime-Los Angeles Chapter.

The first Luigi Mancuso story, "Oil in a Day's Work," was published in the Oct/Nov/Dec 2002 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine. 

The second Luigi Mancuso story, "Hearts and Diamonds," was published in the April/May/June 2004 issue of Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine.

Among other short stories originally published in Futures MYSTERY Anthology Magazine were: "A Man of Honor," Feb/Mar 2001 and, "Saturday Night Reruns," April/May 2001.

She is a former editor of FMAM.

In July, 2001, "A Man of Honor" (translated into Italian), won SECOND PLACE in the Akery National Literary Competition in Acerra, Italy (V Edizione Concorso Letterario Nazionale di Narrativa "Akery"). In November, 2001, it was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her Science Fiction short story, "Intermezzo a Cappella," won an HONORABLE MENTION in the Writer's Digest 2001 Writing Competition. It ranked 22 in a field of more than 1,600 genre short stories.


 

 

THE FMAM MOSTLY MYSTERY REVIEW is the place to come to find out what to read next. Want to know what readers are saying (as opposed to critics) about the books you see around you? You’ve come to the right place! And, if you appreciate a critical review we’ll have those, too. Come in, sit down and see what’s write with the world! (Or, right in the world of write!)

New reviews will be posted on FMAM the 1st day of each month. Reviews will be kept on the FMAM website for 12 months.

New reviews this month from:

Cynthia Lea Clark, Aaron Lazar . Virginia Lo Monaco

 


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  • Death al Fresco
    Leslie Kars
    Crooked Lan Books, 320 pages, March 13, 2018, $26.00
    eBook $10.99
    ISBN: 978-1683315322

Sally Solari, former attorney turned restaurateur finds herself in a “culinary conundrum.”  Her father has been accused of murder and no one is looking for the real killer except for Sally.  Of course, the fate of her father is at stake but so is the restaurant. 

Santa Cruz is a beautiful town know for beautiful sunsets over the ocean.  As Sally’s restaurant is named for the famed artist Paul Gaugin, when a plein air painting class is offered she decides to take it.  With her faithful dog, Buster by her side she walks the coast marveling at it’s beauty soaking it in for her potential art piece when Buster finds a body.  And it’s not just any body, it’s Gino.  Gino was a frequent patron of her restaurant and the last time anyone remembers seeing him was there.  Some claim he left drunk which puts her dad on the chopping block for allowing him to leave drunk.  However, the waitress serving him swears he only had two beers.  Things just don’t add up! 

Who was Gino?  As Sally investigates him she discovers many people had motive.  Things on the wharf aren’t as “ideallic” as the art portrays it.  Time is not on Sally’s side as she dices her way through a delightful a cast of characters on the wharf and throughout the town.

DEATH al Fresco is charming, fun, delightful and while reading it I was constantly hungry.  It is witty, clever, and peppered with the right amount of culinary wit to make me hear the sizzle of food as well as smell the food.  Excellent writing!  Enjoyable, fast read!  Leslie Kars is a writer that engages your senses as well as your mind while entertaining you!

On a scale of 1 to 5, I give it a 5.0.

Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D., Ph.D., MHt

 

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  • Title: The Scrolls of Gideon (The DeathSpeaker Codex Book 7)
    Author: Sonya Bateman
    ASIN: B07BSR1CBJ
    EBook: $3.99

  •  

    I’ve read and loved all of Sonya Bateman’s books since day 1. In fact, she is one of my all-time favorite authors. Her style is so easy to read it feels absolutely effortless. The books all go down so smoothly, and I’d like to say “as smooth as a fine old whiskey,” but I don’t want to use such a hackneyed phrase, because Ms. Bateman sure avoids anything like that in her very fine writing. Her originality is stellar. Her characters grab you by the heart and won’t let go. And her humor has me chuckling out loud so often that if I’m in a room full of people I get those kinds of stares. You know what I mean.

    The Scrolls of Gideon was no exception to the previous books in this series and in all of her series (she has written over two dozen books!), bringing the anticipated thrills, danger, humor, monstrous creatures and… the unexpected. Wait ‘til you meet Bateman’s version of mermaid.

    I absolutely loved the setting of this book. Not only did we get to descend to the bottom of the sea (with such inventive methods, it’ll blow your socks off!), but we met the 400-year-old Sir Livingston Cromwell, gigantic sea monsters, and a variety of trapped souls, some of whom went down on the Nostradamus vessel.

    It’s hard to say which aspect of the book I enjoyed the most, but I think it might be the fact that just about every character and storyline from previous books in the series came into play. We got to reunite with all the beloved characters, like Grygg, Eli, Sadie, Taeral, Daoin, Cobalt and his partner, Uriskiel, and more. But best of all, we meet a surprise family member (no spoilers here!), who will become another rich addition to this sparkling cast.

    Keep ‘em coming, Ms. Bateman. We are all waiting for more!

    Very highly recommended by Aaron Paul Lazar www.lazarbooks.com.

 

 

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  • The Walnut Tree
    Author: Charles Todd
    Publisher: William Morrow 
    Release Date: October 22, 2012, 272 Pages.
    ISBN-10: 0062236873
    ISBN-13: 978-0062236876
    Hardcover Price: $15.20
    Paperback Price: $9.10
    Kindle E-book Edition Price:  $8.99
    ASIN: B0087KA9EW

In 1914, Lady Elspeth Douglas is in Paris visiting her friend, where she becomes engaged to her friend’s brother, Alain Villard, who is leaving for the war front. War has broken out and the Germans have quickly overrun Belgium, threatening France.

It becomes clear Paris is next and Lady Elspeth heads for Calais to catch a boat home, but she's too late. An army captain, Peter Gilchrist, helps her get onto a train. She makes it back to England where she meets Bess, a member of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, who tells her how and where to train for and become a battlefield nurse.

She has grown up under impressive privileged circumstances but against the wishes of her guardian, her cousin, Lord Kenneth, she takes on a career in nursing which was considered much beneath her social position. In order to hide her career choice, she avoids mentioning her social rank and goes as plain Elspeth Douglas.  

She experiences all the blood and gore of the battlefield as a military nurse while at the same time, she is troubled by having fallen in love with Peter while engaged to Alain. Then news comes that Alain is MIA and Peter is gravely wounded.

Elspeth is torn between the men she loves. How she must choose a way to reconcile her feelings for both men is her almost unbearable dilemma.

I found this small book (4”x7”) to be a very satisfying read. When I read “A Holiday Tale” on the cover, I girded myself for a smarmy, sticky-sweet Christmas love story. But “The Walnut Tree” is anything but smarmy and sticky-sweet. I particularly enjoyed her adventures as a nurse during World War I. I only wish that Charles Todd (the mother-and-son writing team of Charles and Caroline Todd) would have written more of Elspeth’s experiences.

I recommend this book to those who enjoy a good love story that isn’t too sugary-sweet and overly sentimental.

Virginia Lo Monaco